13/12/2015 - 09:11


In running my one to one and small group landscape photography workshops, I am committed to facilitating the client(s) to help them make considered and expressive photos, yet sometimes they ask me to make a couple photos to demonstrate my response and approach to aspects of the landscape which they seem to value. It's something I still feel a bit awkward about doing, as I hear occasionally of workshop tutors indulging themselves massively in making photos at the expense of not giving the clients enough attention.


However, I can see that when a client 'asks' it can be useful to make a couple of images to demonstrate and then discuss ideas / options and methods.


At a recent one-to-one workshop at Heybrook Bay, the mid-tide swell was cascading into a deep *zawn in Renny Reef. It was most mesmerising to see the ever changing patterns with each swoosh of an incoming wave. Most times there was a small white water stream,




then periodically the waters would run higher and with a mighty boom a tapestry of flow lines would envelope the ledge.



 We discussed the juxtaposition of the deep time of  the ancient rocks - carved slowly since the Variscan Orogeny, set against ever evolving moments of time & tide on a winter's morning.


I made these two photographs at his request, using my camera mounted on a Pod beanbag support - whilst my client was setting up his tripod at this spot (having moved around the zawn from several other points). We had watched a couple of occasions of the water pouring over the ledge (such as in the first photo) and I saw that there might be another wave coming large enough to drain off the ledge. I had already estimated the average wave period, the drainage time on the previous large cascade and factored in the 2 second timer on the camera then pressed the button. In the time it took my client to set his tripod up next to where I was sat, I had made two photos that were useful for discussing options, techniques and ideas for him to explore in his own photographs of that area of the zawn.


On another recent one-to-one workshop I was asked to make an 'interpretation' of a particular area of the River Aune, near its approach to the Didsworthy Gorge. The rocks strata and trail of ivy seemed to point interestingly towards the confluence of a small brooklet on the far bank. The neighbouring upstream waterfall was hidden from view here, yet the flow lines of the river imply (I hope!) that something far more energetic than the brooklet lies around the corner. Sometimes I like to make photos that leave a bit of curiosity in terms of what lies beyond the frame.




Again, a  just a couple of minutes to make a photograph (at my client's polite insistence!) whilst he was exploring new ideas - which became a discussion point (including how it would be nice to have a tilt-shift lens for such scenes!) and led him on to make his own considered photos around this stretch of river. His photographs that day became more and more "about the river & it's surroundings" - rather than just " big obvious views of the river in a snapshot kind of response" as he put it.



It's always great to see my clients getting absorbed with the picture making process as they 'tune in' to a place.



Steve Jupp, peering into the cataracts of the Didsworthy Gorge - on his second of a series of monthly mentoring workshops


Helping them get to a point of considered picture making, with growing confidence in how to do the technical craft work - allowing that process to become somewhat subservient to the aesthetics of their composition - is the aim. It's a rewarding experience to teach others in the great outdoors, be it climbing, kayaking or photography. It's a wonderful classroom where it's great to see students react to the conditions around them, to see how they tune in, to encourage exploration and interpretation and to hear about / see what these places mean to them.







*Zawn - an old Brythonic lexicon, often used in the South West of England in particular:

n. A deep and narrow sea-inlet in the British Isles, especially Cornwall and the south-west of England, cut by erosion into sea-cliffs, and with steep or vertical side-walls


** My workshops (one-to-one and groups of up to 4 maximum) are available year round in Dartmoor, the rural South Hams and the South Devon AONB coastline (plus further afield by request)


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